Black foods have become increasingly popular in recent years. Not only do they look visually striking, but many of them also offer unique and intense flavors. From charcoal-activated treats to naturally dark fruits and vegetables, black foods deliver both style and substance.
Charcoal-Activated Foods and Drinks
One of the biggest black food trends has been the rise of charcoal-activated eats and drinks. Charcoal powder is used to turn foods and beverages an inky black color. In addition to being eye-catching, charcoal is believed to have some health benefits. It’s thought to be detoxifying and clarifying for the body. Here are some popular charcoal-activated foods and drinks:
|Charcoal lemonade||Lemonade turned jet black with activated charcoal powder.|
|Charcoal ice cream||Ice cream made black with activated charcoal.|
|Charcoal pizza crust||Pizza dough mixed with charcoal powder.|
|Charcoal smoothies||Fruit smoothies blackened with charcoal powder.|
While charcoal-activated foods contain healthful ingredients like fruits and vegetables, experts warn that they may interfere with certain medications. Those on prescription meds may want to avoid overly consuming these blackened eats and drinks.
Naturally Black Fruits and Vegetables
In addition to charcoal-colored treats, there are many fruits and vegetables that are naturally black or deep purple. These foods get their dark pigment from antioxidants called anthocyanins. Anthocyanins have anti-inflammatory effects and may help lower blood pressure and risk of chronic illnesses. Here are some standout black/purple produce picks:
|Blackberries||High in fiber, vitamins C and K, and manganese.|
|Blackcurrants||Rich in anthocyanins and vitamin C.|
|Black rice||Has more antioxidants than brown rice and offers a nutty, subtle flavor.|
|Black salsify||Nutrient-dense root vegetable with an earthy flavor. Rich in inulin fiber.|
|Eggplant||Packed with cholesterol-lowering fiber, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B-6, and phytonutrients.|
|Purple carrots||Higher in anthocyanins than orange carrots. Also contain beta-carotene.|
|Purple cauliflower||Has cancer-fighting compounds called anthocyanins. Has more antioxidants than white cauliflower.|
|Purple sweet potatoes||Full of anthocyanins. Also rich in fiber, vitamins A and C, manganese, and potassium.|
Loading up on naturally black and deep purple fruits and veggies is a healthy way to add striking colors to your plate. Blend them into smoothies, use them in salads, or try making black rice, forbidden rice, or salsify fries.
Small but mighty, black seeds offer concentrated nutrition and bold flavor. Here are some of the most popular types:
|Black sesame seeds||Loaded with copper, iron, zinc, magnesium, calcium, and fiber. May reduce blood pressure and cholesterol.|
|Black cumin seeds||Rich in antioxidants and compounds that reduce inflammation. May enhance immune function and improve blood sugar control.|
|Black peppercorns||Contain piperine, a compound linked to reduced risk of cancer and obesity. Help increase nutrient absorption.|
|Onion seeds||High in manganese, vitamin B6, and antioxidants. May boost heart health, blood sugar control, and inflammation.|
Sprinkle these powerful black seeds into dishes for a nutritional boost. Their strong flavors can stand up to and enhance heartier foods like curries, grilled meats, stir-fries, and stews.
Often used in Italian cooking, squid ink brings a dramatic black-blue color and savory umami flavor to dishes. It’s derived from the ink sacs of squid. In addition to its culinary uses, squid ink contains antioxidants and may have antimicrobial effects. Some ways it can be incorporated into food include:
|Squid ink pasta||Pasta made with flour and squid ink for a striking black color.|
|Squid ink risotto||Risotto rice cooked with squid ink for a deep black hue.|
|Squid ink soup||Broths and chowders turned jet black by the addition of squid ink.|
|Squid ink aioli||Blackened mayonnaise dip made with squid ink, garlic, and olive oil.|
For those looking to add seafood flair to a dish, squid ink’s color and flavor can’t be beat. It pairs especially well with light, bright ingredients like seafood, rice, citrus, and herbs.
Black garlic is created by fermenting whole bulbs of garlic over the course of several weeks under precisely controlled heat and humidity levels. This process causes the garlic to turn from white to jet black. It also leads to several changes:
|Flavor||Black garlic has a sweet, balsamic-like flavor compared to raw garlic’s pungent heat.|
|Texture||The fermentation process gives black garlic a chewy, jelly-like texture.|
|Health benefits||Black garlic is higher in antioxidants than raw garlic, which may enhance its effects on immunity and heart health.|
Black garlic can be used in sweet or savory dishes. Spread it on toast, use it to flavor oils and sauces, or add it to meat and veggie dishes. Its unique flavor profile pairs especially well with other umami-rich ingredients.
Also known as kala namak, black salt has a distinctive dark purple color and sulfurous mineral taste. It’s a popular ingredient in vegan cooking since it has an eggy flavor reminiscent of hard boiled eggs, making it ideal for tofu scrambles and other egg-free dishes. Black salt is also used in chaat snacks and fruit salads popular in Indian cuisine. In Ayurvedic medicine, it’s believed to benefit digestion.
Foragers seek out fungi with black-hued caps for their rich, earthy flavor. Some choice black mushroom varieties include:
|Black trumpet mushrooms||Have a trumpet-like shape and smoky, woodsy flavor. Contain niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin D, potassium and copper.|
|Black morels||Conical mushroom capped with honeycomb-shaped ridges. Rich in antioxidants like vitamin C and selenium.|
|Chanterelle mushrooms||Funnel or vase-shaped mushrooms with fruity, peppery flavor. Contains vitamin D, potassium, copper and iron.|
Forage for these black beauties to elevate omelets, pastas, and meat dishes. Dried black mushrooms can also be found in some specialty stores for convenient use anytime.
Activated Charcoal Cocktails
Charcoal powder has extended beyond food and into trendy black cocktails and drinks. While activated charcoal can’t remove alcohol from drinks, some mixologists believe it helps mitigate hangovers. Popular black activated charcoal cocktails include:
|Jet black martini||Gin or vodka, dry vermouth, activated charcoal powder.|
|Black Negroni||Gin, sweet vermouth, Campari, charcoal powder.|
|Black Manhattan||Whiskey, sweet vermouth, activated charcoal.|
|Black vodka tonic||Vodka, tonic water, lime, activated charcoal powder.|
These striking cocktails are sure to grab attention. But drink them in moderation since excessive charcoal consumption can impact medication effectiveness.
From drinks to desserts and main dishes, black foods deliver visual drama and unique flavors. Activated charcoal, black sesame seeds, squid ink, black garlic, and black fruits and vegetables can all impart striking style and taste. Moderating charcoal intake if on medication, black foods can be safely enjoyed as part of a balanced diet. So embrace the dark side and experiment with going black on your next plate or cocktail.